The following is a re-post of a 2020 article I wrote which happens to be just as relevant today.
I just dropped off my eldest child for his first semester of college several states away and have been thinking about the many ways in which life has changed now that he is 18. Not only is he entering one of the most memorable periods of his life, but he is by law an adult now and not (technically!) answerable to his parents for anything. That means he no longer needs to share his academic progress with us or involve us in making his financial and medical decisions.
While every parent or guardian welcomes their child’s passage into adulthood, it also means having to think about the difficult things – what would happen if our child was unable make his own decisions?
Whether your child is staying at home and remotely attending this semester or going off to campus in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we as parents or guardians are keenly aware of the particular challenges facing them right now and thinking of what we can do to prepare for the unpredictable.
Part of that preparation is having your child sign certain legal directives. These are:
- Power of Attorney for Health: Once your child is 18, medical institutions will no longer automatically release medical records to you as a parent or allow you to be a part of your child’s healthcare decisions. A Power of Attorney for Health signed by your child naming the parents or guardians as their agents gives you access to information that would otherwise be blocked under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and allows you to make medical decisions on behalf of your child if they cannot make them for themselves and includes an advance directive specifying your child’s wishes if they become incapacitated.
- Power of Attorney for Property: This document allows you to manage your child’s financial matters such as bank accounts and credit cards if they are not able to do so.
- FERPA waiver: Once your child is an adult, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) prevents a parent or guardian from accessing their student’s grades or any disciplinary reports without the student’s written permission (with a few exceptions). If your child signs a FERPA waiver, however, the academic institution will release educational records to you. You can usually find this document on the college’s website.
The attorneys at Boodell & Domanskis, LLC are available to assist you with preparing and executing the documents you require so that you can assist your child in an emergency or simply if needed. Contact us today.